December 7, 2021 12:05:15 pm
When iCardin, a Pune-based startup, began operations in 2020, it was a second-opinion platform for neurology, cardiology and cancer. Soon, they discovered that 70 to 80 per cent of consultation was for neurological ailments, not only in India but also in foreign countries. “Thirty to 40 per cent of the consultations we made were for stroke patients asking if there was a treatment so that they could recover. Unlike diseases like cancer and diabetes, there were almost no platforms to help patients of neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and migraine,” says Sameer More, CEO & Founder, iCardin.
“In case of stroke, the initial 4.5 hours are crucial but, due to a lack of awareness or facilities, this time is lost, which leads to death or paralysis. More than 1.6 million people suffer stroke in India every year and only five per cent get timely treatment. Most people get paralysed or die. We decided to take this up as a challenge and began to build stroke-ready centres,” he adds.
Today, iCardin has metamorphosed into one of India’s leading healthcare discovery platforms and offers end-to-end care for patients with neurological disorders. It is building stroke-ready centres as part of neurocare programmes across Maharashtra.
A few weeks ago, the company raised $100, 000 in its first funding round from Jitendra Patel, a UK-based businessman, who operates the Grandbydale Ltd drugstore business in Liverpool. “The fundraising campaign aims to create a network of fully–equipped neurology care units across Pune and Mumbai. A portion of the money will also be used to create tele-stroke facilities that will use telemedicine carts for conducting remote thrombolysis to save maximum stroke patients from permanent brain damage. We are working to prevent paralysis and assisting individuals who are already paralysed,” says More.
Between 1990 and 2019, the rate of non-communicable neurological disorders and neurological injuries (of the total disease burden in India) increased from 4 per cent to 8.2 per cent. “The causes are primarily hypertension, obesity and changing lifestyle,” says More.
One of the biggest challenges that the company faces is a lack of awareness. “I have seen that people, who have brain stroke, call up not a hospital but their family physician, who asks them to take a pill and come over for a check-up in the morning. The golden hour has passed, and that’s the reason the patient faces paralysis. People are not aware,” says More.
There is also a shortage of dedicated neurologists — only 2,500 across India. Apart from having several neurologists who can come online and give care remotely, iCardin is targeting 75,000 hospitals across India, which are trusted by patients, to build stroke-ready centres. In Pune, these centres have already been set up in collaboration with Hospital Nigdi and Senapati Bapat Road, and Oyster and Pearl Hospitals, Shivajinagar.
“Instead of just creating an aggregator platform, we want patients to receive help physically as well within 45 minutes,” says More. Meanwhile, he doesn’t see the rate of neurological disorders reducing in the near future. “In fact, hypertension, obesity and changing lifestyles are going to keep the numbers rising. We need awareness and to act fast to limit the damage,” he adds.
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